At the urging of Dionne Galace, a blogger whom I consider a friend, I purchased this book from LiquidSilver. It languished in my to be read pile because, like other readers, anthologies are often not my cup of tea. Because Dionne is a friend, though, I read it a few days ago and am reviewing it now. It’s hard to do reviews of books written by people you like or that you consider a friend, but the promise of the blog is that our reviews are as honest and as impartial as possible. With that caveat stated, we’re onto the reviews.
First up is Annie Dean’s Seven Days. Teresa has been training her whole adult life to become a bride of God. One week before she would take her holy vows, a handsome stranger appears to tempt her into sin. In a not very discreet manner, the stranger admits that she has done nothing wrong but Heaven and Hell engage in these battles for entertainment from time to time. Remember Job, is essentially his message. Teresa is determined to withstand his seductions though and be as successful as Job.
The story is told by days of temptation: Day One, the meet and greet; Day Two, awakening in the arms of future lover after an innocent sleep; etc. So each day brings Teresa closer to her decision but, of course, with more doubts than ever. Not only is the stranger handsome and seductive, but if she denies him, he goes back into the pit of hell.
Had the question of the story been whether it is more honorable and or strong to make a decision with knowledge of what your missing, i.e., Job enjoyed wealth, good fortune, and a good reputation before God and Lucifer engaged in a battle for his soul, the story would have been stronger; the setting more compelling. Instead, the story turned into Teresa being the seducer and giver of pleasure and somehow that was still abiding by precepts of her impending sisterhood which seemed common in the face of the unique possibilities of the religious overtones. In other words, the conflict was less about the religious struggle for Teresa’s heart and more about her saving this stranger from going to hell. C.
The Straw Man by Bonnie Dee.
This is my first story of yours. Your work has often been claimed as unconventional but transcendent. It could be a case of missed expectations, but I found this story to be ordinary and worse, lacking in plot. Marie is a woman who has a farm and in order to make the farm a going concern, allows visitors during the holiday season to supplement her income. She spends much of her time muttering to her scarecrow Sam who isn’t good for anything, not even keeping scarecrows out of the field. Marie engages in serious projection with Sam, accusing him of not responding to her insults, redrawing a sexier face on his tin visage, and wishing that he were a real man to take care of her sexual itch.
She wished at the right time because Straw Man comes to life for a night. Without any real thoughtfulness, Marie commences to have intercourse with the stranger throughout the night. The story was primarily a few sex scenes, unimaginative sex at that, strung together. Even the prelude of the story seemed contrived with Marie confronting the stranger at her door and thinking that he is some crazy yet her nipples harden and her crotch “clenched and released in a hard spasm that wet her underwear.”
There wasn’t any real plot to the story other than Straw Man serving as one who existed only to meet every need of Marie’s even before she voices it because Straw Man just knows what she wants. “Tonight has been just what I dreamed about. You’re exactly who I wanted.” He then ominously warns her that “Real men aren’t perfect.” But Marie doesn’t want a real man. She wants a dream man and that is what she gets. Essentially the Straw Man is her id. In a greater sense, Marie is essentially having intercourse with a giant fantasy vibrator. Self fulfillment taken to the nth degree. I’m pretty sure, though, that’s now how the story was meant to read. D.
Waking Kitty by Dionne Galace.This final contribution to the anthology was very disjointed. The opening scene includes showing that Jack, the hero, is kind of a slacker, man slut, drunk, and addicted to Vicodin. So we know this guy’s edgy. Different. Not ordinary hero material. Problem is that none of this is important for the plot. In fact, the Vicodin and sleeping around has no bearing on any part of the story. If anything, it serves as a point of irony because despite being characterized as an anti-hero, he acts like the standard romance hero.
He’s protective of Kitty, not willing to take advantage of her, and all around acts the good guy while inwardly protesting that being the good guy is really hard. Of course, he tends to treat Kitty as a child and I wasn’t sure whether the “stay here, Kitty” demands were an inside joke or whether it was to depict his mastery over her or whether Kitty was supposed to be treated like a dog or child.
Kitty’s best known characteristics are that she dresses like an anime character (or Sarah from Wienerlicious): short skirt, pink knee high boots, big rack encased in a filmy see through white shirt, and fishnet stockings and can’t remember anything before a month ago. There are strange goings on in the Chicagoland area such as ships appearing inside bars and pink ducks in the city parks. Kitty has a sneaking suspicion that she might be the cause of these strange occurrences but chooses to deny it.
Rather than reading edgy to me, I am just confused. The heroine is supposed to be omnipotent. What’s the point of having someone all powerful who doesn’t do anything but produce stone statutes and pink ducks?
I have no idea why Kitty would stay with Jack. There is a suggestion that he is real, as if the men in her past are not real which wasn’t the case. Kitty came off more petulant than strong willed and her month long escape more of a temper tantrum than a quest for a life change. Someone who wanted to get out of the life that she had and enjoy a new adventure. This new adventure included being sexually attracted to Jack but I couldn’t see them having more than a month of bed romping together before Kitty was bored again and moved on. The one sex scene I thought was tacked on and included so that this could be part of an erotic romance anthology.
I saw glimpses of the Bam wit that I know and love but it wasn’t enough to save this story for me. C-